UCLA Bruins vs University of Arizona Wildcats, 10/09/2021, 7:30 PM
UCLA 34 – Arizona 16; Attendance: 43,258
Weather: Sunny, 70 down to 60; Ticket: $35 StubHub, Face: $82 Parking: $20
“A little pity for the kitty” by Tree
The University of Arizona is in Tuscon, a small city about 2 hours south of Phoenix. I would guess you could fly into Tucson, but we did the easy drive down from Phoenix, having gone to see ASU the night before. To hear Sun Devil fans tell it, the town is a dump. It may have been that feedback they made us take our time heading out. We did some sightseeing in the mountains (hills?) on our way down and our ability to assess the quality of Tuscon was diminished. With the sun setting, we grabbed some Mexican food near the stadium at restaurant that was truly short staffed. Momo’s Tacos was a no-no from that perspective and limited us to only some brief chats with tailgaters as we walked in. Those that we did meet were very friendly and even sang us the fight song. Alas, we didn’t see most of the tailgating which happens on the other side of the stadium. Based on the steady stream of cars coming a mere thirty minutes before kickoff, I have a feeling the tailgating is not substantial. This is pure speculation on my part, but it feels right.
The Wildcats play at Arizona Stadium, which seats about 51,000 people. That makes it about an average size stadium, although slightly small for a Power Five school. However, it felt large enough once we got inside. Our seats were on the 25-yard line about 8 rows up. Given the current state of the Arizona program, we were able to get our tickets with a deep discount online, $35 for tickets that were still available through the University for $82. The stadium has two video boards, one big and one small. We were told in advance by some fans that the pre-game entry was entertaining. Between a military flyover and video intro by alum Craig T. Nelson, it was a stirring entrance. I will say this about the video though, it was awfully heavily laden with basketball highlights for a football game. The band was good and preformed pre-game and at halftime. The new coach at Arizona, Jedd Fisch, has introduced a “Red” – “Blue” cheer at the start of the game, but their signature cheer is simply “Bear Down.” In 1926, John Byrd “Button” Salmon, the student body president and quarterback, was critically injured in a car crash with his last words ”tell the team to bear down.” Today, this simple two-word phrase is a rallying cry for the Wildcat faithful. As cheers go, it is a strong one with a good back story to boot.
The concessions were okay although my wife said the pretzel she got was “possibly the worst she ever had.” She should have gone with the Mexican menu in my opinion. The souvenir cup was okay. There were also guys hawking beers in the stands which is a rarity in the college game. The Wildcat color scheme of red, white and blue does look good on the field and in the stands. The cheerleaders were also sporting green ribbons in their shoes and hair, but we couldn’t quite figure out what the cause was. Legalization of marijuana seemed unlikely, but then again, we were on a college campus. The game day attire of fans and students was fairly laid back – mostly a jeans and t-shirt crowd. However, there was one woman wearing a pair of white cutoffs that could have doubled for dental floss. She combined it with a U of A tube top and white leather cowboy boots. Decorum, and my wife sitting next to me, prevented me from getting a photo for illustrative purpose. However, this outfit (further below) from FAU was strikingly familiar. Maybe there’s an Etsy site that specializes in college football themed, trailer park sexy outfits? You know, attire suitable for meth lab openings, strip club interviews and lower tier football tailgating.
Arizona was a decided underdog in this contest, having not won a game in two years. I had told my wife not to worry, this game will be over at half-time. However, someone forgot to tell that to the Wildcats. The first half was very competitive. Arizona couldn’t stop the UCLA running attack, but the Bruins could not contain the Wildcat passing offense either. The teams were trading punches most of the first half. Arizona struggled in the red zone but managed to get a touchdown right at the half. Much to my wife’s chagrin, that made it 14 – 13 and we weren’t going anywhere. In the second half, UCLA’s ground game was continuing to give Arizona fits, but they were hanging tough. That is until Arizona’s QB, Jordan McCloud, went down with a leg injury early in the fourth quarter. The game was effectively over with his exit. As well as McCloud played, there was one play that encapsulated the difference between the two teams. At one point the UCLA center snapped the ball over their QB’s head. He not only recovered the ball but was able to throw it away, saving valuable yards. When the similar thing happened to Arizona, McCloud jumped on the ball. Not a bad play, but it lost a lot of yardage. It seemed to illustrate the difference in the overall talent of level of the two programs.
It could be argued that we really didn’t give the University of Arizona its due. We rolled in two hours before kickoff, got waylaid by an overwhelmed restaurant, and missed the vast majority of the tailgating. Even if the tailgating was robust, which I doubt, it wouldn’t be enough. This program does not have a great history of winning (~.500 lifetime). The rare bowl appearance is usually marked by a loss. The new coach is trying. They recently added a tradition of singing the Kenny Chesney ditty “Happy is as happy does” at the end of third quarter which I found entertaining. They also had the local Pop Warner teams play at halftime, obviously trying to build some local support Such traditions are nice, but Arizona needs to add more than just that. Winning, for one, would be a great start. In the end, I can’t think of any reason to go see the Wildcats in person. If you don’t believe me, just ask any ASU fan.